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Under a time crunch (with screaming, hungry kids in the backseat that you have to appease), but still want a healthy option? There is hope, moms, there is hope.
A new all-vegetarian, 95 percent organic fast-food restaurant, Amy's Drive Thru, will open its first location in Rohnert Park, which is north of San Francisco, this month. It joins the growing trend of vegetarian fast-food outlets like Evolution in San Diego.
The competitive menu includes meat-free burgers ($2.99 for single patty with locally brined-pickles, organic tomatoes and a secret sauce), burritos ($4.69), chili cheese fries ($3.49) and personal cheese pizzas ($5.89). There will also be milkshakes as well as vegan non-dairy shakes. Every ingredient is non-GMO, peanut- and egg-free, and many will be locally sourced. You also have the option of ordering any of the items vegan or gluten-free. (To the 16 million people in the U.S. who are now vegetarian or vegan—are you positively drooling now?)
Really though, even if you aren't vegetarian and are an avid beef lover, the menu is hard to say no to. The veggie burger alone took 1,000 taste tests to perfect.
"We didn't do many taste tests with vegetarians," says Andy Berliner, co-founder and co-CEO of Amy's Kitchen (the vegetarian frozen-food empire behind Amy's Drive Thru). "We were trying to target people who would eat at one of the existing fast-food burger places and get it to the place where they would say 'This is better. I'd rather have this than whatever else.' And we did that. We consistently hear that now."
Besides the all-vegetarian food (which means drastically smaller carbon and water footprints!), the restaurant itself screams sustainability with its green roof and solar panels, tables made from retired auto brake drums and tableware made of recyclable, non-GMO materials. Even the ink used in takeout bags and boxes will be printed with non-GMO ink.
If the first restaurant succeeds, Amy's hopes to eventually scale its model. For now, those of us not in Northern California and still on the lookout for some vegetarian or vegan fast food can try one of these options:
Burger King's BK Veggie™, a flame-broiled vegetarian burger
Carl's Jr's french fries, CrissCut® fries, hash rounds and hash-brown nuggets are all vegan
Cheeburger Cheeburger's vegan grilled portobello mushroom sandwich, wrap and salad
Chipotle's Sofritas (organic tofu braised with peppers and spices) is my personal favorite, and you can order it in a bowl, burrito, taco or salad
Del Taco's 8-layer veggie Burrito, the 1/2 lb. bean and cheese burrito and the value bean and cheese Burrito with red or green sauce
El Pollo Loco's BRC burrito, which you can get without cheese
Jack in the Box's black beans, potato wedges, seasoned curly fries and breakfast blueberry muffin oatmeal
Taco Bell's cinnamon twists, chips and guac, bean burrito "fresco style" and Veggie Cantina Power Bowl with no sauce are just a few of their options
White Castle's vegan slider patties, which you can get with plain or sweet Thai sauce (the bun isn't vegan, but add fries instead to fill up!)